Tuesday, May 20, 2008

PayPal Fraud

Yesterday I woke up ready to beget my little morning routine: cup of coffee in the quiet still morning, a little writing in my journal and some blogging.

Yet first, as I always do, I checked my e-mail. I saw several suspicious, spam-like messages from PayPal. I didn't want to open them suspecting phishing or a spyware scam. Instead I opened a separate browser and logged into my PayPal account just to make sure everything was okay. I haven't used PayPal since I went on my postcard-buying binge back in the winter swallowing up antique cards on eBay. What I saw astonished me.

I was shocked to see someone had accessed my account and charged over $3,500 against both my savings and American Express on several transactions for Xboxes and the like.

I was panicked. There it was 5:30 in the morning. Nothing was open. There was nothing I could do but haphazard investigating and to wait.

Ultimately everything is fine but it took several hours with a useless customer service representative at PayPal, my bank and AmEx to stop the charges from hitting my accounts. PayPal wanted to allow them to go through and within 10 days give me my money back. "I don't think so," I said. Instead my bank froze my savings/checking account and AmEx is now issuing me a new card. I'll be closing my PayPal account once they've finished my investigation. There's nothing anyone can do with it now anyway.

All and all a very inconvenient but valuable lesson: Be careful with your online shopping activity. Apparently some computer system obtained my PayPal information and within 1 minute (obviously an automated program) tried to charge 7 separate transactions, totaling $3,500.

I was most panicked about the bank account. It so happens to be what I'm using to pay contractors and materials for the house. My bank was awesome. They were able to freeze everything except for two outstanding checks I have for people I paid last week. They're closing the entire account and issuing me a new one.

American Express was also very understanding and is opening a fraud detection and new account.

I won't have to pay a dime, except for the time and aggravation. I didn't make it into work till almost 11.

PayPal as I said...useless.


dit said...

How fortunate you got it all stopped. It is a crazy world. I too have had fraudulent charges on cards. I just checked my paypal account too. Great save on your part.

Countess Bedelia said...

Congrats, Rick. You were fortunate that you were vigilant. In this fast paced world we live in, we all have to be very vigilant about our personal affairs. There are trade-offs for the convenience of internet buying, paying, etc.

And good luck on your renovations on the new home. It can be a lot of headaches while you go through it but it is so worth it when you are living it.

Take care.

Sorted Lives said...

Sorry to hear that. Glad you were able to get everything straightened out before those charges hit your account.

And, thanks for the reminder about online fraud. It happened to me with my debit card last year.

Anonymous said...

Good thing you were on top of things and caught this at what seemed to be at its infancy, despite the large dollar amount! It's been a while since I've been on Ebay. I even wonder if I remember my Paypal account and password. :-|

Greg said...

Thank goodness you caught it!! I closed my PayPal and eBay accounts years ago, but still receive phishing spam about them.

Maddog said...

I'm glad that you were able to fix this so easily. I am always thankful that I've never had anything happen like that.

Charles said...

I hate paypal just for that reason.
Glad to hear that everything ended up okay.

Donnie said...

So glad to hear you got everything taken care of. That's why I'm terrified about making purchases online!

Sh@ney said...

OMG Rick, that is really scary!
To think it can happen without one clue until it is too late.

I would have been a mess if that happened to me. Paypal is the reason why I don't use Ebay anymore. We are lucky enough to have an Aussie version of Ebay which dont make you sign up for 3rd party programs just to make or recieve payments.
Glad eveything got sorted.